Do we need to divest?

Divestment has become a hotly contested issue with the revelation this term and the landmark Council decision last year JOE COOK

Ahmed: He is in favour of divestment. He argues that "Cambridge cannot call itself a world-leading elite institution if they're not socially responsible as well", and that the fight to divest must continue until it is successful.

Parker Humphreys: He similarly favours divestment, and has said that if elected, he would continue to "[lobby] the University" on an issue which he believes "the vast majority of students support".

What's an issue in Cambridge that is underdiscussed? 

Ahmed: Although college inequalities are "talked about a lot", "it's still severely understated how much your raw absolute experience can vary based on the college you go to",for issues such a financial provision and academic support.

Parker Humphreys: Student loneliness is an issue that "doesn't get discussed enough". He noted that "doing an arts degree can end up being very lonely", as aside from a couple of lectures a week, "there isn't much interaction at all".

What's your stance on the Prevent duty?

Ahmed: The Prevent duty is a "massive issue [...] even if you don't see it all the time". He views the legislation as both a "welfare issue" and a "rights issue", and has spoken to students "who do feel quite targeted by it".

Parker Humphreys: He believes the "gap between rhetoric and practice [on Prevent] is worrying" where a 'light touch' approach "doesn't seem to be the case". He said he has flagged cases which risked "disproportionately impact[ing] BME and Muslim students".

How is it possible to reduce college inequalities?

Ahmed: Addressing college inequalites requires different tactics depending on the problem, where rent needs "a college-specific approach", but the living wage is an issue for which "you can write a basic proposal" for all colleges.

Parker Humphreys: He says that "working with JCRs and MCRs on a one-on-one level" is crucial to identifying strategies which are applicable at various colleges, and that as CUSU president, he would take a collaborative, on-the-ground approach.

Is enough being done on high rents and rent disparities?

Ahmed: He believes that CUSU can do more to support work by student groups to cut the rent, through "getting a broad range of opinions" from surveys and focus groups, and "fighting [rent charges] individually within each college".


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Parker Humphreys: CUSU should give "their utmost support" to efforts at a college level in order to mediate between colleges and campaigners, as he has observed "such a power imbalance" and where colleges "can often be very punitive in response".

Why do you think CUSU engagement is so low?

Ahmed: He doesn't believe engagement is "particularly bad", citing CUSU elections voter turnout in 2018 of over 20%. He added, "people who engage, engage lots", but that he hopes, if elected, to groups of students who don't engage if the reason is that "they don't feel welcome".

Parker Humphreys: The most common criticism he hears of the student union is, "what does it do?", and that although he sees engagement as important, "you've not going to get everyone involved", and that students also "want to see CUSU getting on with the job".

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